MILLIS, Mass. – Story by Race Chaser Online Mid-Atlantic Correspondent Marshall Gabell – Audio by Managing Editor Jacob Seelman for Speed77 Radio and Race Chaser Online — Daren McCollester/Getty Images North America photo –
More often than not, rookies stick to gaining experience during their opening season — making 2014 NASCAR WHELEN Modified Tour newcomer Tommy Barrett Jr.’s season all the more impressive.
Barrett didn’t drive to stick with the status quo. He drove to win.
The 19-year-old entered this season by taking over modified legend Mike Stefanik’s seat after joining Chris Our’s No. 22 team – a car that Stefanik had ended his illustrious career with the season prior.
Although it seemed like the pressure would be extremely high, Barrett claims he did not think about filling Stefanik’s shoes or have any major expectations after joining the team.
“We were not really thinking about that since there was no real expectations entering this season,” Barrett said during last week’s Stock Car Steel/SRI Motorsports Show. “We just wanted to go out there and run good and earn good finishes along with some wins. We got one big win but next season we will be hoping for more.”
Hailing from Millis, Massachusetts, Barrett racked up three top fives and a win during the season but was unable to capture Sunoco Rookie of The Year honors after falling 33-points short to fellow beginner Timmy Solomito.
“It was a bummer we didn’t win the rookie award,” a disappointed Barrett stated. “We started the season with a few DNF’s (did not finish) and that just killed us. That’s the main reason Timmy (Solomito) got ahead of us. We were catching him at the end of the season but it was just to much to overcome.”
“We just had some bad luck this season. Things just didn’t go our way even though I thought we could have won one or two more races. That’s just part of racing so we are going to keep our head up and move into next season.”
While he did not earn the rookie award, Barrett was satisfied leaving his opening season in the modified division following a win in the Bush’s Beans 150 combination race – an event where WHELEN Modified drivers and Southern Modified drivers compete against each other – at Bristol Motor Speedway in late August.
“It was definitely a good first season on the NASCAR WHELEN Modified Tour,” Barrett said. “Honestly, as a race car driver, you never have the season that you really want to have. You just always want to win more. But, fortunately I was able to get my first win at Bristol Motor Speedway. It was a big step-up though and a big learning curve. We just ran where we wanted to for the most part.”
Barrett now turns his focus towards a test session with Roger Carter Racing in the ARCA Racing Series at Daytona International Speedway next month; marking his first-time in a full body stock car.
“Next month we are going down to test at Daytona International Speedway in an ARCA Racing Series machine,” Barrett explained. “We are just going down there to get some experience and get certified but there is no real plans. We are just going to have some fun and gain the experience.”
And while it seems like the test could setup future opportunities, Barrett says at the moment he has no plans to be in a stock car come Daytona in February.
“Not that I know about,” Barrett said. “There is no plans – no talk of that. So right now I will have to deny that. I am just going to go there and hopefully do good, have some fun, gain experience and go from there.”
Listen in to our complete interview with modified young gun Tommy Barrett Jr. from last week’s Stock Car Steel/SRI Motorsports Show: